Sesriem Canyon

Sesriem Canyon

Page Type Page Type: Canyon
Location Lat/Lon: 24.2637°S / 16.10110°E
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Sign the Climber's Log


Inside Sesriem Canyon

Sesriem Canyon, located in the vast Namib Naukluft Park in central Namibia, was cut by the Tsauchab River, the same river that feeds Sossusvlei in times of heavy rain.
The name of Sesriem is taken from the canyon, early pioneers who came to the area and wanted to get water from the canyon had to tie six leather thongs to the handle of their bucket in order to draw water from the top of the canyon. These thongs were called leer riems in the Afrikaans language and the word for six in the same language is ses. She area became known as Ses Riems which was corrupted into English as Sesriem.
The canyon itself is up to 30 meters at its deepest and about 3 kilometers long.
Lots of caves and weird rock formations have been carved out by the river and looking along the sides of the canyon, it is easy to see by the size of the rocks and sediment that have been deposited, the difference between when the area was wetter and the river had a powerful force and when, in years of repeated drought, the river had a almost no power at all.
Water fills the canyon almost every year but the flow is not usually strong enough to push the water all the way to Sossusvlei, about 60 km away. The rainy season is between November and April and visitors to Sesriem Canyon can swim in the river if they are lucky enough to be there just after heavy rain.

Getting There

Walking in Sesriem Canyon
• Drive south from Windhoek along the B1 through Rehoboth.
• Just south of Rehoboth turn west onto the C24. (87)
• Drive over the Remhoogte Pass.
• At the end of the C19, the road intersects with the C14 and becomes the D1273.
• Take the D1273 to the C19.
• Follow the C19 southwards to the D826.
• Follow the D826 to Sesriem.
• Distance from Windhoek to Sesriem: approx. 340 km (337)

From Swakopmund
• Just east of Swakopmund, turn south onto the D1984
• Follow the D1984 to the C14
• Follow the directions from the C14 from Walvis Bay (below)
• Distance from Swakopmund to C14: approx 40 km

From Walvis Bay
• Take the C14 to the Kuiseb Pass.
• Continue along the C14 to the Gaub Pass.
• Continue along the C14 to Solitaire
• Turn onto the C14 at Solitaire.
• Follow the C19 to the D826.
• Follow the D826 to Sesriem.
• Distance from Walvis Bay to Sesriem: approx. 320 km.
• Entire distance from Swakopmund to Sesriem: approx. 360 km.

From Mariental
• Just south of Mariental turn onto the C19.
• Follow the C19 to Maltahöhe.
• From Maltahöhe, follow the C19 to the Tsaris Pass.
• From the Tsaris Pass, follow the C19 to the D826.
• Follow the D826 to Sesriem.

The canyon is reached by following the 4 km gravel road from the Sesriem campsite.


Inside Sesriem Canyon

A walk through the Sesriem Canyon gives the visitor a quick visual history of the geology of the area.
About 15 to 18 million years ago, when the Namib was wetter, layers of sand, gravel were deposited. During periods when the river flowed fast, heavy pebbles were deposited. When the river had a medium strength flow, gravel was deposited. When the river flowed lightly, sand was deposited. Dust containing calcium carbonate was blown over it by the wind and washed in by the river. This calcium carbonate, combined with water, cemented the layers in a calcrete conglomerate.
Between 2 and 4 million years ago, continental uplift caused a split in the surface that formed the Tsauchab River. The river flowed through Sesriem Canyon cutting through the calcrete layers, exposing the geological formation of the area for all to see


In the shade of enormous camel- thorn trees just past the entry gate to Sesriem and Sossusvlei are 20 campsites with ablution blocks and a shop. This popular campsite is managed by NWR and reservations must be made in advance at the Central Reservations Office in Windhoek. Each camping site has its own fireplace and tap. Public telephones are provided and there is a small shop selling beer, soft drinks and basic foodstuffs. In the campsite there are ablution blocks that provide showers, toilets and basins with a mirror. The water is usually hot, but not always. There is also a swimming pool and a small thatched bar that has an excellent selection of ice cold soft and alcoholic drinks.
View on Sesriem Canyon from above


Summer (September to March). Daytime temperatures average approximately 29 degrees C. Nights are cool with an average of around 15 degrees. Summer is also the rainy season.
Winters days are cool (approximately 20°C) with night temperatures dropping down to freezing.
Sesriem Canyon from the bottom

Red tape

No permits needed.